Ousmane Dembele’s time at FC Barcelona is marked by murky surroundings which may never be clarified. To add to his many controversies during the last two and a half years, we must add the latest mystery - him not even being in the squad for Saturday's game against Levante.
Dembele had already fulfilled the two match ban for his expulsion against Sevilla. In the training session prior to the duel with Levante he was seen smiling and apparently without any problems. However, the surprise came when Barça made public the squad list - with his absence. From the beginning, the club said it was a technical decision and did not issue any medical statement.
Ernesto Valverde’s assistant Jon Aspiazu pointed this out in his pre-match statements to Movistar, but at the same time, the newspaper 'l'Equipe', in France, spread the story online that the player he had noticed a pain in the last session and had stayed at home as a precaution.
Information that hours later was denied by Ernesto Valverde in the press conference after the match at the Ciutat de València. "It's a technical decision," he said and recalled that “We have more games in the coming days."
The big question comes now. Will Valverde have Dembélé back to face Slavia? Luis Suarez was injured in Valencia and he now has Ousmane, along with Messi and Griezmann, in addition to the two youngsters, Carles Pérez and Ansu Fati.
Purely looking at hierarchy, often obeyed by Barca coaches, Dembele should accompany Luis Suárez and Messi in the starting line-up against Slavia. However, Dembele’s situation is always special.
With the Gallic footballer there is always the shadow of doubt. Valverde is a coach who never airs internal issues, so it remains in the air if there are other motives behind his discard against Levante. Perhaps some behavior that the coach did not like in training or details that have not convinced Valverde to return Ousmane to the starting eleven even though his penalty is completed.
Valverde speaks today
Barça’s coach faces a press conference before the game against Slavia today and the case of Dembele will be discussed. Valverde will have the opportunity to reaffirm that he really has him back from now on or perhaps reveal some kind of discomfort, which had not been made public.
The best way to deactivate the controversy would be with the return of the Frenchman to enjoy minutes against Slavia Prague. Otherwise, doubts about his physical state and attitude will appear again.